900 tonnes of oxygen in govt stock: Minister

Staff Correspondent

7 May, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Health and family welfare minister Zahid Maleque on Thursday said the government has a stock of around 900 tonnes of oxygen to meet the emergency demand.

“Our neighbouring country India is currently in a dire situation due to oxygen crisis. In order to prevent a similar situation in our country at any time, about 900 tonnes of oxygen has been stored in case of emergency,” he said. The health minister came up with the statement while speaking at a virtual discussion titled ‘Public-Private Preparation and Emergency Oxygen Management to Cope with the Second Wave’ arranged by Bangladesh Private Medical Association on Thursday.

“In addition, other government hospitals in the country have more than 450 tonnes of oxygen reserves. A non-governmental organisation will also supply 40 tonnes of oxygen next month while another organisation will supply 40 tonnes in July. The country has a capacity of producing 220-230 tonnes of oxygen daily,” he added.

Mentioning that Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients need 70-80 tonnes of oxygen daily in the country, Zahid Maleque claimed that if the third wave of coronavirus infection situation is normal, then there will be no problem to face it with the existing oxygen.

He said the central oxygen system has been launched in 130 government hospitals and it is being used for supplying oxygen to patients of 16,000 beds.

About coronavirus vaccine, the health minister said they are now at the stage of signing a deal with Russia to procure Sputnik-V vaccine. “We’ve already made a huge progress in discussions with Russia over procuring its vaccine … now we’re at the stage of signing a deal in this regard,” he said.

Mentioning that the government is also in talks with China to get Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine, the minister said five lakh doses of Sinopharm’s vaccine will arrive in Bangladesh by May 12. “We’ve also sent a letter to them seeking more vaccine doses.”

He said the Chinese government is now assessing the possibility of vaccine export to Bangladesh.

“So, we’re making all-out efforts to collect the vaccine. Even, we’re trying to have AstraZeneca’s vaccine from other countries as it is being manufactured in different countries. So, every effort is there to bring vaccines. We hope our efforts will yield good results, and we may be able to give you good news over the vaccine very soon,” Zahid Maelque said.

He said the government will encourage the private sector if it tries to manufacture vaccines in Bangladesh. “If anyone can produce vaccines, we’ll provide all-out support, and it’s my commitment.”

Speaking at the programme, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Enamur Rahman said there is no alternative to vaccinating people to control the coronavirus situation.

He said the government is working sincerely for procuring vaccines from Russia, China and other sources as there has been a crisis of AstraZeneca’s jabs in India.